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Lexus IS300 vs Tesla Model 3

TEG

Teslafanatic
Moderator
Aug 20, 2006
21,991
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No, not a drag race. The Model 3 would easily out accelerate the old IS300.

I bought an IS300 new in 2001 and have been waiting for a suitable replacement for a long time.
It has been a nice (if you can call anything gas powered nice), reliable car for me, and so I had, I think, a somewhat tall bar for the Model 3 to be its' worthy successor / replacement.

Now that I have the Model 3, I am sure I have found a car I can love more from every standpoint.
(Assuming that the Model 3 ends up being long term reliable.)

I still have a brief chance to compare the two directly before my son takes the IS300 away when he heads off to college.

When I hop back and forth I notice some basic ergonomic things:

#1: Model 3 has a fat / beefy steering wheel that just feels more comfortable to hold. The IS300 steering wheel used to seem really nice, but now it feels like something designed for people with really small hands.
#2: The Model 3 seats are more comfortable for a person who has grown a bit large in my older age. The IS300 seemed very comfortable when I was younger and thinner, but I am glad to have the wider seat in the 3 now.

Here is a silly mental score comparison between the two vehicles:

Looks:
Model 3; A+
IS300; A-

Handling:
Model 3; A
IS300; A

Efficiency:
Model 3; A+
IS300; D

Sound system:
Model 3; A+
IS300; A

Paint:
Tesla Midnight Silver: A
Lexus Graphite Gray Pearl: A


m3-is-a.png


logo-l.png

logo-t.png


wheel-l.png

wheel-t.png


Goodbye Lexus... It was nice knowing you....
 
Last edited:

buttershrimp

Click my signature to Go Mad Max Mode
Supporting Member
Jun 17, 2017
3,268
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ATX
No, not a drag race. The Model 3 would easily out accelerate the old IS300.

I bought an IS300 new in 2001 and have been waiting for a suitable replacement for a long time.
It has been a nice (if you can call anything gas powered nice), reliable car for me, and so I had, I think, a somewhat tall bar for the Model 3 to be its' worthy successor / replacement.

Now that I have the Model 3, I am sure I have found a car I can love more from every standpoint.
(Assuming that the Model 3 ends up being long term reliable.)

I still have a brief chance to compare the two directly before my son takes the IS300 away when he heads off to college.

When I hop back and forth I notice some basic ergonomic things:

#1: Model 3 has a fat / beefy steering wheel that just feels more comfortable to hold. The IS300 steering wheel used to seem really nice, but now it feels like something designed for people with really small hands.
#2: The Model 3 seats are more comfortable for a person who has grown a bit large in my older age. The IS300 seemed very comfortable when I was younger and thinner, but I am glad to have the wider seat in the 3 now.

Here is a silly mental score comparison between the two vehicles:

Looks:
Model 3; A+
IS300; A-

Handling:
Model 3; A
IS300; A

Efficiency:
Model 3: A+
IS300; D

Sound system:
Model 3; A+
IS300: A

Paint:
Tesla Midnight Silver: A
Lexus Graphite Gray Pearl: A


View attachment 301957

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View attachment 301960
View attachment 301961

Goodbye Lexus... It was nice knowing you....
I had a 2001 Lexus IS300 that I put 100k miles on over 10 years. It was the first car that was very fun to drive. Tight steering and just fun. So I love this comparison. That Lexus had so much personality. I had a 2015 IS 350 F sport several years later that SUUUUUCKED by comparison. Just complete evidence that Lexus became more and more generic and boring over the years.

Anyway, one thing I will say about that Lexus 2001.... It is the best sound system I've ever had. It wasn't a Mark Levinson, it was a standard 2001 IS300.... the second audio is my Tesla.

To this day, no car on earth has played one of the best songs on planet earth (In my time of dying, Live at the Greek Jimmy Page and The Black Crowes).... The incredible depth and pristine clarity of that song in the IS300 sound system with that song is just amazing.

If anyone ever attempts to replicate the feat... make sure to use the CD player and not some lame digital download of the song.

Anyway, I wish I could get @TaoJones with his Reus audio in his Tesla to listen to that song to see if it compares. It might actually make me upgrade the sound system if it can compete.
 

buttershrimp

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Jun 17, 2017
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"St. Peter at the Gates of Heaven! I never did no harm.... No harm! "....... (insert face melting guitar riff by Jimmy Page).....

Just typing that verse from that song gives me goosebumps. What a great song.

I Any car that can handle the last verse of the song with volume up......when the instruments suddenly go quiet and he sings "Oh my Jesus" several times before all the instruments kick in simultaneously..... It is the best test of audio equipment I can think of.
 

TaoJones

Beyond Driven
Nov 10, 2014
3,064
3,028
The Americas
Anyway, I wish I could get @TaoJones with his Reus audio in his Tesla to listen to that song to see if it compares. It might actually make me upgrade the sound system if it can compete.

Well, if somebody was here at ye olde rally, somebody might be able to convince me to download the FLAC version of said music and play it in said chariot over espresso.

But noooooooo.

Hey, it’s the 3rd week of May - where *else* are Tesla owners supposed to be?!

1F61B816-B107-4AF0-93BE-9663AABCAFEE.jpeg


Ahem. Feel no pressure.

And unlike in years past, it was 80F in Lusk, Wyoming ytdy.

Now that you mention it, that song might make for good background music at tomorrow’s Supercharger grand opening...
 
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Wife had an IS300 for many years. Handled like a BMW 3 series. But "just worked" like a true Toyota. Almost 100K miles and zero repairs. Only scheduled maintenance. Astonishing.

If Tesla could eventually find a way to approach this reliability, they'd be untouchable by their slowly-awakening European competitors ...

That's the biggest IF of all time, Lol.
 

nitzmahone

Member
Supporting Member
Feb 28, 2018
60
157
Portland, OR
No, not a drag race. The Model 3 would easily out accelerate the old IS300.

I bought an IS300 new in 2001 and have been waiting for a suitable replacement for a long time.
It has been a nice (if you can call anything gas powered nice), reliable car for me, and so I had, I think, a somewhat tall bar for the Model 3 to be its' worthy successor / replacement.

...

Goodbye Lexus... It was nice knowing you....

Yep, I had a 2002 IS300 5spd in black that I bought brand new in 7/02- was hoping to drive it until my Model 3 was available. I never had a single problem with it in 14 years, still loved driving it, and the audio system was great (though I did end up replacing the head unit a few years back with something that could do Bluetooth/aux easily). Sadly, a couple of 16yo boneheads ran a red light in 2016 and T-boned me, totaling it (trashed the diff and transmission, among other things, which are difficult to source in the 5spd variant). The insurance company gave me enough for it to pick up a 2013 Leaf so I could get used to driving electric- it was plenty of fun in its own way, but the Model 3 was definitely worth the wait. I was definitely spoiled by both the IS300 and the Leaf WRT maintenance- my Model 3 has already had a charge port replacement and plenty of software issues. But I'm loving it!
 
Really glad you did this comparison. I have been wanting to get an IS300 for a while now. I like that its sort of a mini Supra. Supra being my favorite car as I was a teenager but they're just too expensive for being so old now days. Good to know if I do end up getting one to play with that its not going to disappoint.
 

buttershrimp

Click my signature to Go Mad Max Mode
Supporting Member
Jun 17, 2017
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Lot's of love out there for the IS300...

A key developer of that car seems was Hiromu Naruse.... I lifted this from a Lexus page after he died on testing in Nurburgring.

"Stumbled on an insightful speech given by the late Hiromu Naruse, Master Test Driver of Toyota, at a Toyota Altezza/Lexus IS 300 owners event at the Fuji Speedway in 2007 — here are some direct quotes that detail his part in the car’s development:

After enhancing the rigidity, I test drove 2,000 km for two days, all by myself in Nurburgring, having the bad road surface conditions and many ups and downs. Because of the test, I lost 4kg. (Laugh.) But I could find many shortcomings such as the body rigidity, underbody problems, etc.

While I enhanced the rigidity, springs and shock absorbers and did some readjustments, I tried the 20,000km test for two weeks.

…I took the car to the autobahn (highways in Germany, some have no speed limit), and drove it at full throttle. Then, the car jumped up and down due to the gap on the road conditions between the circuit and the autobahn. Once again, I had to go back for the development of springs and shock absorbers. I did another full-throttle test on the mountain roads in France by over 200km/hr while I tested the drift performance by 180km/hr in the middle of winter in Hokkaido.”

2,000km (1,242 miles) over two days on the Nürburgring is one thing, but an average of 1,428km (887 miles) every day for two weeks staggers the mind, and only serves to highlight Naruse’s pure dedication to Toyota.

(I certainly recommend reading the full transcript — makes me want to track down a first-gen IS.)"
 
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buttershrimp

Click my signature to Go Mad Max Mode
Supporting Member
Jun 17, 2017
3,268
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Well, if somebody was here at ye olde rally, somebody might be able to convince me to download the FLAC version of said music and play it in said chariot over espresso.

But noooooooo.

Hey, it’s the 3rd week of May - where *else* are Tesla owners supposed to be?!

View attachment 302058

Ahem. Feel no pressure.

And unlike in years past, it was 80F in Lusk, Wyoming ytdy.

Now that you mention it, that song might make for good background music at tomorrow’s Supercharger grand opening...
Didn't you say you weren't going this year?
 

buttershrimp

Click my signature to Go Mad Max Mode
Supporting Member
Jun 17, 2017
3,268
8,720
ATX
Well, I officially realized I'm old. Not only am I reminiscing of the good old days with the IS300, when gasoline powered cars were built right.... but I'm also convinced that my 20 year old album with Jimmy Page is the best album ever created.
 

TaoJones

Beyond Driven
Nov 10, 2014
3,064
3,028
The Americas
Well, I officially realized I'm old. Not only am I reminiscing of the good old days with the IS300, when gasoline powered cars were built right.... but I'm also convinced that my 20 year old album with Jimmy Page is the best album ever created.

Yeah, I was gonna say, between that and the urban soundtracks, we might need to have a chat.

So the best version that I could get on the road was a 320Kbps mp3. With that caveat and noting as well that I am not now nor have ever been a Jimmy Page fan, I did play it in the car and definitely get the love for that track. Especially at the timepoints noted. Holy crap. And yeah, you’ll like the Reusification. Do seek out an Austin/regional owners club member who’s done the Reus thing so you can hear for yerself.

If you lay hands upon a FLAC version, I’d like to hear it both in the car and via my go-to/reference portable rig (KSE1500) - the neutrality of the latter being, dare I say, unmatched by anything short of the new Orpheus. Soundstage and imaging... ok, that’s debatable. But the neutrality lets me hear the music the way it is or was intended to be, so to speak.

I don’t know that I’ll become a Jimmy Page fan, but hearing that music live at The Greek must have been nothing short of mind-blowing.
 
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TEG

Teslafanatic
Moderator
Aug 20, 2006
21,991
9,259
Things I will miss about the IS300:

#1: The super high quality cloth seats (most IS300s don't have them.)
#2: Amber rear turn indicators/signals.
#3: Rather narrow width for compact parking spaces. (Although I appreciate the extra room I have now in the Model 3.)
 
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Beachdog49

New Member
May 17, 2018
1
0
California
Giving up my IS300 for a Model 3 also...just took delivery yesterday, and I love everything about it, but I will definitely miss my IS. What a great little car; so fun to drive, the coolest car I’ve ever had. Until Model 3.

Giving my IS to my son, so at least it will still be in the family...
 

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